Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hawks Defeat OCN 5-1 On Home Ice:

 The Nipawin Hawks met with the OCN Blizzard last night at the Centennial Arena, with the Hawks scoring 2 goals in each of the last two periods en route to a 5-1 victory.

Davis Jones made 17 stops while he split duties with Jordan Liem, who had to make just 5 saves in the second half of the game. Justin McDonald went the distance for OCN, making 22 saves in the losing cause.

 Next Game is Tuesday vs La Ronge at the Cage, puck drop is 7:30. Melfort will host Humboldt Tuesday which can be heard via uStream beginning at 7:15.

1st Period:
The game would get underway with OCN rocking their regular season darks and Nipawin wearing their Exhibition yellow jerseys. Davis Jones would start in net for the Hawks and the Blizzard started Justin McDonald, who played last season with the Kindersley Klippers. The Hawks would open the scoring just over 5 minutes in to the opening period, with Garret Lockridge setting up Blair Macuch on the doorstep. The Blizzard would strike back 10 minutes later as Wilson Dumais was able to pick his spot on Davis Jones, with the assists going to Kolton Baptiste and Kirk Chief. Jones looked very sharp making 4 or 5 great saves, with the final shots being 10-9 in favor of the Hawks.

2nd Period:
The 2nd would start much like the first, with the Hawks striking 5 minutes in on an unassisted goal with Dustin Skilliter. Just under 2 minutes after that, Tad Kozun would find the back of the net with linemates Taylor Balog and Wheaton King picking up the assists. Eric Bollefer took the lone penalty in the period with the Hawks killing it off succesfully at the 10 minute mark. Davis Jones finished with 17 saves as he was replaced by Jordan Liem at the hafway mark. Final shots in the 2nd were 10-9 for the Hawks, totaling 20-18 after 2.

3rd Period:
OCN started to lose their tempers as the 3rd period worked it's way onward, and it all started when Kolton Baptiste got called for slashing under a minute in. The Hawks would be unable to the convert but the path to the penalty box would continue with 4 slashing penalties being called in the 3rd(1 to the Hawks). It would be a power play tip in by Michael Lambert that added to the lead at the halfway mark, off of a hard point shot from Josh Wik. Mitch Doell picked up the other assist. Another power play goal would added by Jesse Williamson with just over 5 minutes to go, while Mackenzie Klatt had the lone assist. OCN kept their cool at the end but managed just 4 3rd period shots, falling 5-1 on the scoreboard. Shots in the 3rd were 7-4 for the Hawks, as Jordan Liem finished the night with just 5 saves in the victory. Justin McDonald wrapped up a 22 save night.

Tonight was the best game of the preseason to date and the Hawks were getting wacked and hacked all night long but continued on to a big win. In order to play this well on Tuesday, they need to continue to provide excellent support along the boards, as their battle support plan was working out just great. They also need to pick up the shot count, as they had just 27 shots in a game they could have had 40. OCN needs to continue to work the puck along the boards but they were too often skating directly in to the most widely covered areas. Either that or the Hawks coverage was just that good.

Thomas Ward-Cardinal was by far the best player on the ice last night. He walked around everyone but just couldn't get a shot in the back of the net. He has such a hard shot and knows how to get himself into position to get it off. Has the potential to go pro if he keeps working hard, much like Bobby Orr.

Wilson Dumais was also a strong force for the Blizzard, although in the end he proved he couldn't 'keep his cool'. He was flying side to side end to end all night long with and without the puck. When he didn't have the puck, you could tell he wanted it, and he wasn't afraid to play physical in able to get it. Left game with shoulder injury late in 3rd after shift before went in to wall awkwardly while trying to cheap shot Justin McCaughey.

Grant Valiquette was also a strong player in the loss, and his best feature was his ability to pick up the puck and skate it around the end boards without being touched. He found the open man in the slot nearly every time and seemed to have excellent vision in the defensive end.

Davis Jones was very sharp seeing his first rubber in a while. Made some early big saves to preserve the lead, and played solid all night long. Guided several hard bombs right in to his chest and didn't let rebounds out. Almost got caught a couple times but his stick handling is just too good. 

Dustin Skilliter played his best game to date I thought, led by his 2nd period goal. Every time he touched the puck tonight he was dangerous with it, and displayed excellent neutral zone speed with the puck. He got the puck to the boards well and supported his line mates in deep for a full 60 minutes. His line was great tonight, with Justin McCaughey and Patrick O'Neill.

Speaking of Justin McCaughey, he also played his best game of the year to date. He was being pestered by several Blizzard players including Wilson Dumais, but he seemed to not be afraid of a thing. He went after Dumais a couple times but got pulled away. Had the puck on a string too, and played very smart with it. As a left winger, played a bit of right wing as well showing his versatility. I spoke with him and here's that interview...

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